Guns, Drugs, Cars Lowering U.S. Life Expectancy Rates

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Guns, drugs and cars contribute substantially to the life-expectancy gap between the U.S. and other developed nations, says a study reported by the Associated Press. Deaths from these causes tend to happen at younger ages, contributing to many decades of life lost, researchers said. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show injuries including violence, car crashes and drug poisonings and overdoses are the leading cause of deaths for Americans to the age of 44. U.S. death rates from these categories exceed those in 12 nations studied: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Among men, life expectancy in 2012 in those countries was 78.6 years versus 76.4 in the United States. Injury-related deaths accounted for almost half of that difference, the study found. The researchers’ estimates are based on an analysis of 2012 data from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization. The government study was published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we’d gain about a year of life expectancy,” said lead author Andrew Fenelon of CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

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